It is easy for us to have pride when we read the Bible and look at the struggles of early churches. The Galatians originally served false gods and experienced the trauma of being slaves to their pagan worship. When they came to Christ they were set free from pagan slavery and its superstitions. They experienced freedom, but they had been accustomed to living in fear and having to do things to appease false gods. So, they were prime candidates for the Judaizers who came to them when Paul left. They were drawn to adopting the Old Testament system of religion by observing days, months, times and years. It was not wrong for them to want to observe religious days, but Paul discerned they were living like they had when they were slaves who hoped to gain some spiritual merit by observing Old Testament holidays. We can do this with holidays even now. For example, Advent or Lent can be worshipful seasons, but we can’t earn more love or holiness by observing them or by not observing them. The work Jesus did on the cross was a complete work and we don’t add to it by observing or refusing to observe holidays. Evangelical churches have many different holidays and different ways of celebrating and that is okay. I learned to check my own heart and discern my motive when choosing to celebrate or not. When it is out of love, I am filled with joy. When it is from a fearful spirit, I find myself becoming legalistic and then compare how other individuals or churches celebrate. Legalism tickles my fleshly pride, leading me to criticize and condemn those who do it differently. However, when I am remembering Jesus and what He has done during the holidays, it fosters a spirit of humility and thanksgiving and in that spirit, I tend to be more curious than critical about others’ celebrations and appreciate the differences we all have. Could it be that God really has given us great freedom in remembering him so we are drawn to worship him rather than be ones who sit in judgment of others?
Father, help each one of us to remember the gospel daily. Help us to continuously trust the finished work of Jesus and to take every thought captive that would tell us we need to add to what he has done. Thank you for loving us so completely that there is nothing we can do to lose it or earn it. Amen.